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NEW TERMITE MANAGEMENT CODES OF PRACTICE

AEPMA’s Codes of Practice for Termite Management offer consumers valuable – and free – information about how best to protect their homes against termites.

Until very recently, consumers (our clients) have had to purchase the Australian Standards documentation in order to gain knowledge of termite management and best practice guidelines. More often than not, this cost prevented consumers accessing relevant information that would allow them to make an informed decision about services they were requesting.

As part of the move to make pest management services more transparent and advice more readily available to consumers, AEPMA created its Codes of Practice documents. The Termite Management Codes of Practice provide consumers with guidance on what a good termite job should look like and more importantly, the information is freely available.

Here we’ll look at the benefits the Codes provide to homeowners, and in the next issue, we’ll outline the many benefits these new documents offer to pest managers.

New Termite Management Codes of Practice: Benefiting Consumers

Termites are an increasing problem in Australia. Today, houses are deemed to be at higher risk of termite infestation because, since the 1960s, most homes have been constructed using concrete slabs that have little clearance from the ground, together with soft wood timber framing. In 2012, an industry study commissioned by AEPMA estimated the average cost of termite treatment and repair damage to be approximately $10,000 per house.

To most people, their most important asset is their home and therefore it is important that termite protection remain a priority for every homeowner.

In September 2017, The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) granted authorisation to the Australian Environmental Pest Managers’ Association (AEPMA) in respect of Codes of Best Practice for termite management.

The ACCC recognised that by abiding by the standards set out in the Codes, pest managers – and those who install termite management systems – who choose to be bound by these Codes are required to meet specific levels of practical experience and education in termite management practices in order to become a signatory to the Codes. The AEPMA Codes of Best Practice set out industry standards of conduct, including guidelines for fair dealing between pest managers and their customers.

Below are some common questions AEPMA regularly receives from consumers, which highlight the many benefits the AEPMA Codes of Best Practice bring to consumers.

 

How much financial damage can termites cause?

We know that the average cost of termite treatment and damage repair is approximately $10,000 per house. Prior to the AEPMA study, a 2003 survey by Archicentre (the Building Advisory Service branch of the Royal Institute of Architects) estimated that 650,000 Australian homes had become infested with termites over the previous five-year period. The cost of treatment and repair of the damage caused by the termite infestations during that five-year period was estimated at $3.9 billion.

In addition to the costs outlined, termite damage is an incredibly costly business to Australia. A 2005 study by the Queensland Department of Work found that repairs range from $18,000 to $50,000 per property – significantly more than the figure estimated by the AEPMA study. Therefore, it is important to take termite damage and protection into account when purchasing or maintaining an existing property or building a new home.

 

I’ve heard about Codes of Best Practice. What are they?

AEPMA Codes of Best Practice give guidelines for fair dealing between consumers and pest managers and outline what a customer can expect from a pest management company when he or she agrees to engage its services. The Codes that have been lodged with AEPMA represent the whole industry and ensure that termite protection for both pre-construction jobs and existing buildings is carried out according to the highest level of technical knowledge available today.

Best practice is outlined in the following two documents:

  • AEPMA Code of Best Practice for Termite Management
  • AEPMA Code of Best Practice for Termite Management During Construction

The Codes have been drawn up by a committee of technical experts and set out the current best actions to take in dealing with termites. The Codes are regularly revised to ensure that they are technically correct and set out the best options for dealing with termites in Australia.

 

Can I see the Codes of Best Practice?

Yes – they are available online, for free. One of the reasons why the ACCC granted authorisation to AEPMA regarding the Codes is that until now, consumers were required to purchase copies of the Australian Standards themselves to see the minimum requirements necessary in termite work.

The Codes of Best Practice can be downloaded for free from both the AEPMA website and the ACCC website. They can also be obtained from an accredited Code of Best Practice pest manager, you just have to ask!

How can I check that my pest control company is accredited to the Code of Practice?

A list of companies that guarantee to implement the Codes of Best Practice is available on the AEPMA website. ­­People, businesses and organisations who sign up to these Codes of Practice commit to following and complying with the Code’s objectives, best practice requirements and stipulations, which protects the pest manager just as much as the consumer.

 

What happens if my pest manager doesn’t follow the Codes of Practice?

Signatories to the Codes must agree to be bound by the dispute resolution process set out in the Codes. The consumer must agree to play his or her part, while pest managers must have documented consumer complaints handling procedures that comply with the Australian Standards for Complaints Handling in Organisations (ASISO 1002/206).

If there is felt to be a breach of the terms of the Code of Best Practice, dispute resolution and disciplinary action proceedings can be enacted. Any dispute that cannot be settled through the consumer complaints handling process within three days can be referred to the AEPMA code compliance manager. Complaints that cannot be resolved by the code compliance manager are escalated to a disciplinary committee.

The disciplinary committee may:

  • audit corrective action in respect of work undertaken;
  • order restitution of any damages caused as a result of work undertaken;
  • suspend use of the Code until the party in question can demonstrate ongoing ability to comply with the Code,
  • order appropriate retraining.

Failure to comply with the audit of the disciplinary committee may result in disqualification, suspension and publication of the breach on the AEPMA website.

As an alternative to the dispute resolution process, or if a customer is dissatisfied with the manner in which a complaint is resolved, a complaint may be lodged with the relevant consumer protection agency or court of tribunal.

It is of significant benefit to pest managers to sign up to the Codes, as doing so indicates a willingness to work in a positive way with consumers – we’ll touch more on this in the next issue.

To become a signatory, or for further information, visit the AEPMA website.

Until next time, I wish you all the best and trust all is going well within your businesses.

Vasili Tsoutouras

AEPMA President